First rite of passage: a celebration is in order!

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moving and grooving to the likes of Celia Cruz

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Ginny and I celebrating to Squirrel Nut Zippers

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Could this be a reprisal sing-along to Dar Williams’ “As Cool As I Am”?

“Everything is created from moment to moment, always new. Like fireworks, this universe is a celebration and you are the spectator contemplating the eternal Fourth of July of your absolute splendor.” – Francis Lucille

Nice. What a good quote. It feels magical and momentous, just like a good celebration. The culmination of a rite of passage with one 14 year old girl, and 9 committed, experience-laden, long-distance-driving women had to end with an all-out doozy of a fireworks show, not literally, of course.

I tailored the celebration to what I had (let’s see, some blue and red tissue paper, some pre-used paper luminarias, twinkly lights, and who was coming: “Karmyn, could you lead us in some riotous celebratory dancing?”) and we were off! Gyrating to the Gypsy Kings, holding hands to the Tarantella, and stepping the steps of the hava nagila. Then as a culmination, we rocked out and Irish danced to a collection of Ginny’s favorites that I had put together on a c.d..

We ate, danced, and made merry. The room of celebration (which took place in my backyard) was fully regaled with women feeling the fullness of life and community. And a girl, as they danced in her honor, looked on with amazement and wonder.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” – Ray Bradbury

 

First rite of passage: creating spaces

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paper and lace doily luminarias in “the room of celebration”

We were living in a beige neighborhood with stucco walls and neutral carpet (the accepted uniform for houses in the area). We weren’t raking in the bucks at our current jobs, so reserving an ultra rarified space with wooden floors and haloed light was not an option for this rite of passage. In fact, renting a space didn’t even rent any space in my mind at the time. As the granddaughter of Angelina Castellino Mammano, Sicilian immigrant and crafter of household wall art from broken bottles and dress-making scraps, I knew that making do was the right thing to do.

I had already formed a plan for theming each room for the event. I wanted a room of stories for sharing adolescent gems from the diaries of memory, a room of wisdom to gift Ginny with symbols of growth into womanhood, a room of blessing to pour words of hope and affirmation over my daughter’s body and soul, and a “room” of celebration to party till the twinkly lights shined no more!

Combining “making do” with these themed elements was my challenge. How could I make a room of stories a warm and safe place to mine the treasures of the historied heart? How would I make a room of wisdom that honors my daughter’s own sensibilities of beauty and taste? Could a room of blessing become a holy space without wooden floors, sacred echoes, and sanctified ceilings? What space could best hold a feast and a riotously celebratory dance party all at the same time?

Well, with a call out to a couple of women included in the special day for suggestions and ideas, as well as a gathering, yes, an actual gathering of materials in my living room of things I had on hand (quilts, fancy fabrics, folk art carvings, photographs, mis-matched tea cups!), I created simple, but beautiful spaces that held what I had hoped my home would house most on that important day: a homespun montage of warmth and meaning.

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My daughter relishes the “room of wisdom”